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Charles Darling, 1886 - 1918

Charles Darling was killed in fighting around Bapaume in France on 26 August 1918. He was aged 32 and is buried at Vaulx Hill Cemetery in France.

Charles was born in Dunedin on 14 May 1886. His parents were Harriet Walsingham and Charles Darling. His father was cable editor of the Evening Star newspaper. Charles attended Kaikorai School, where he was Dux in 1900, and King Edward Technical College. He passed the matriculation and solicitors' general knowledge examination at the end of 1904 and began to study law, working as a law clerk with Dunedin solicitor John Hislop, founder of Paterson and Lang which merged with Downie Stuart in 1995.

Darling passed the final section of the solicitors' examination in June 1907 and was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court by Justice Williams on 9 August 1907. He left Dunedin in 1908 to enter into partnership with GN Hayes in Dargaville, forming the firm Hayes and Darling. The partnership flourished and they were solicitors for the Dargaville Borough Council.

On 14 July 1912 Darling married Minnie Alice Jones at Auckland. The couple had one son, Richard Maxwell, who was born on 9 January 1914. 

By January 1916 Darling had been called up and he left Auckland for training at Trentham camp on 11 January 1916. He actually attempted to join the Army earlier, in mid-1915. Probably unknown to Darling his friend Gordon Coates, MP and later Prime Minister, approached the Minister of Defence, James Allen, asking that young unmarried men be called up before those who were married and with large businesses. On 29 June 1915 Allen wrote to Coates, saying he was persuaded "that the young unmarried men ought to go before the married, especially the married who have great claims upon them." Allen concluded: "I will ask the Commandant to place Mr Darling's name towards the bottom of the list of registrations."

After he had received his callup, Darling's army medical examination report shows he was 5 foot 9-1/2 tall (1.77 metres), weighed 149 pounds (67.6 kg) and had blue eyes and brown hair. His last action as a lawyer occurred two months later on 4 March 1916, when he was admitted to practice as a barrister by Justice Cooper on the motion of R McVeagh. During training with the 1st Battalion, E Company of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade he was given the rank of Sergeant. He embarked from Wellington on 26 June 1916 for Devonport in England, arriving on 23 August. After a month at Sling Camp he left for France on 19 September.

Darling served in the Somme, Messines and Paschendaele campaigns. He returned to England for two months on 28 March 1917 and was based at Codford, returning to France on 28 May. In November 1917 it was announced that Sergeant Darling had been nominated to be trained for a commission and in April 1918 his promotion to Second Lieutenant was approved. He was subsequently posted to B Company of the 4th Battalion on the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. This was heavily involved in the battle of Bapaume and Darling is recorded as leading a platoon which "mopped up" the northern fringe of the village of Puisieux on the first day of the battle on 21 August. He was killed in action during heavy fighting in the early evening on 26 August 1918 as his platoon advanced through heavy machine gun fire towards the Cambrai Road.

Charles Darling is remembered on the Auckland District Law Society Roll of Honour and the Roll of Honour at the Northern Wairoa RSA in Dargaville. In 1925 his former partner, GN Hayes, presented what was at the time one of the largest town clocks in New Zealand to Dargaville. It was installed at the (now former) Dargaville Post Office where it remains today. Mr Hayes presented the clock in memory of his late partner, and also as a memorial to fallen soldiers from the district.

Flight Sergeant Richard Maxwell Darling, the son of Charles and Minnie, was killed in action over Germany on 28 August 1942. 

Sources: Otago Daily Times, 18 December 1897, page 2; Otago Daily Times, 21 December 1899, page 6; Otago Daily Times, 20 December 1900, page 2; Otago Daily Times, 23 January 1905, page 3; Otago Daily Times, 16 December 1905, page 8; Otago Daily Times, 4 June 1907, page 6; Otago Witness, 14 August 1907, page 31; Otago Daily Times, 1908, page 6; Oamaru Mail, 18 August 1910, page 2; New Zealand Herald, 3 February 1915, page 6; New Zealand Herald, 24 December 1915, page 9; Auckland Star, 12 January 1916, page 9; New Zealand Herald, 6 March 1916, page 7; Northern Advocate, 7 September 1916, page 2; New Zealand Herald, 26 November 1917, page 6; Otago Daily Times, 6 April 1918, page 8; Northern Advocate, 3 November 1923, page 5; Northern Advocate, 11 March 1925, page 4; WS Austin, The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (LT Watkins Ltd, Wellington, 1924), pages 347, 363. 

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph solider profile.

This obituary has been prepared by the New Zealand Law Society to preserve the memory of members of the legal profession who died while serving in World War I.

Lawyers Roll of Honour.

By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society. Further information is welcomed: geoff.adlam@lawsociety.org.nz

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Last updated on the 13th January 2015